The Turtle of Oman: A Novel

by Naomi Shihab Nye

Hardcover, 2014



Local notes




Greenwillow Books (2014), 299 pages. $16.99.


When Aref, a third-grader who lives in Muscat, Oman, refuses to pack his suitcase and prepare to move to Michigan, his mother asks for help from his grandfather, his Siddi, who takes Aref around the country, storing up memories he can carry with him to a new home.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

299 p.; 5 inches


0062019724 / 9780062019721



User reviews

LibraryThing member Calavari
The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye The book is written for children and the story is really cute. What I found most appealing was the universal nature of hating change, particularly changes as big as moving to another country so far away for any reason. Aref has normal and understandable concerns about moving from his home country. His parents have normal and understandable reasons to want to make the move happen.
I've seen stories about Americans moving to other countries and it was fun to experience a story where America was the strange and dreaded destination. It's not even America that's the problem. It's the leaving in general.
I also really love Sidi and his way of dealing with this issue. I love the way he seems to revel in his country and in spending time with his grandson. I love the way he talks about the turtles laying eggs in the sand and the way Aref's favorite animal brings into focus what is expected of him in this moving adventure.
I listened to the audiobook, read by Peter Ganim, and was only 4 hours long. It seems like a perfect length for a book rated for this age group. This would be a great book for middle grade readers, especially for schools to add as recommended reading at that age. It reminds us that moving and hating to move and everything that worries us about it are completely normal and fairly similar. We aren't so different after all and someone is looking at our hometown the same way that we are looking at theirs.
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LibraryThing member lilibrarian
Aref's family is moving from Oman to the United States. Aref must decide what to pack, but he just does not want to go. He loves his home, his grandfather, his neighborhood.
LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Distraught at the idea of leaving his home in Muscat, Oman behind, and spending three years with his parents in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Aref Al-Amri does everything he can to avoid preparing for the trip. His mother, busy getting them packed in order to join Aref's father in the US, doesn't have time to address his profound sense of loss, so Aref spends his last week with Sidi, his grandfather. Together the two have many adventures, taking a trip into the desert interior, where they stay at the Night of a Thousand Stars camp and meet a trained falcon; going to visit the sea turtles at their nesting grounds at Ras al Hadd; and taking a short fishing trip with one of the fisherman in Muscat harbor. Throughout their time together, Sidi patiently listens to his Aref's fears and concerns, gently prompting him to think of his travels in a more positive light.

Written by Palestinian-American children's author and poet Naomi Shihab Nye, The Turtle of Oman is the first children's story I have read set in Oman, and is apparently inspired by the author's time teaching at an international school in that country. I found Aref and Sidi both very engaging characters, and thought that the author deftly captured the gentle back-and-forth of their loving and often humorous exchanges. The many lists included throughout - a list maker like his parents, Aref is forever jotting various things down, whether it be facts about turtles or questions about his life - make an interesting contrast to the main text. Although not quite what I expected - I thought the book would focus on Aref's adjustment to life in the US - this was still an engaging tale about a boy facing the common childhood problem of moving to a new place. What makes the story uncommon is the setting and culture from which Aref hails, as there really aren't a superfluity of Arab characters in American children's literature. The narrative focus on Aref's relationship with Sidi gives the tale added pathos and meaning, making this a book that many young readers will appreciate. Recommended to young readers looking for stories about children coping with moving house, or relating to their grandparents, as well as to anyone looking for children's books sets in the Middle East.
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LibraryThing member KrissyKares
In my opinion this is a great book! I would recommend this book as a read aloud for a 4th or 5th grade classroom. It was a great multicultural book that could be used for multiple reasons. It was a great way for children to see how other children from other countries live and value their customs. This book gave great details to paint the scenes that Aref treasured about his country. Not only was it a great story line, but it could be used in science lessons to teach children about the cycle of life for the sea turtles. All around, I would give this book five stars!… (more)
LibraryThing member DonnaMarieMerritt
A gentle story about making a big move from Oman to America. The entire story takes place over one week as Aref fights against leaving and his grandfather, Sidi, tries to help him through the transition.

"Birds knew how far to fly in a single day and where to land and where it might be safe to nest. Turtles knew this too. Turtles knew the exact moment to crawl out of the sea and make a nest on the beach.

"Aref did not have this gift. Aref did not feel this is the perfect moment for me to leave home and crawl up exactly 7,283 miles away on the shores of Michigan."

I love turtles, so the turtle facts alone hooked me, though I wish there had been more about them. Also, I'm not sure why it's called The Turtle of Oman rather than the TurtleS of Oman. And while I think it was a sweet, poetic book, there is not much action for younger readers.

Still, I'm happy to add it to our school library and will recommend it to thoughtful students, students who might be moving, students who love learning about other cultures, students from Oman or near there, and, of course, turtle lovers.
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LibraryThing member kakadoo202
Cute and quick read. Having been to Muscat, Oman recently gave this book a special meaning.
LibraryThing member bookwren
A sweet, beautifully written story that honors the bond between grandfather and grandson.




(24 ratings; 3.8)
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